I don't condemn Randy Wittman for speaking his mind in his post-game presser following yesterday's shellacking in Detroit (embedded above), in fact, I encourage it. I like this side of him better. The side that isn't always resorting to coach-speak when attempting to decipher what went wrong in a 48 minute game of basketball. Instead of hearing about a lack of toughness or heart, I like when when a coach dives into the X's and O's or when he simply explains a critical juncture where he thinks ultimately lost him the game.
To Wittman's assessment, that juncture was right before halftime. To that point, Washington had owned the paint that quarter by punishing Detroit for going small with Anthony Tolliver at the four. They got productive minutes out of Ramon Sessions, allowed Wall to run off missed shots, and slowly enough, built an 11-point lead.
Then, with two minutes to go, everything would go south according to Randy:
"Awful. It's the same thing we talk about closing out quarters. We took three of the God-awful-est shots you could take. All threes, like we're smoking hot from the three - we made one last game and 6 tonight - and it [the lead] goes quickly from 11 to 5. That's huge. We play the last couple of minutes of quarters like it's a pickup game and it's the same thing. We talk about it, we work on it and we keep doing the same thing."
Here are those attempts:
While I agree on the sheer lunacy of those shots in a vacuum, it should be worth mentioning that the Pistons didn't convert on their end following any of those possessions either. And it's not as if they were simply gunning for threes. They had a plan in place to attack early against Drummond -- which had found plenty of success earlier in that quarter -- but the execution was lacking.
Had Rasual gotten the ball from John earlier, he's getting to the rim. Instead, the pass is a beat late; Butler doesn't reset and takes the ill-advised shot with 20 seconds left on the shot clock.
Or the Wall three, which is the classic two-for-one that he hunts for on a regular basis. He's been bagging extra possessions for Wittman for years, but now it's a problem? My guess is that it has something to do with CSN Washington's report last week:
End-of-quarter situations will change. It's alarming with the way the Wizards are failing to execute here and the coaching staff has to show more imagination, and that's a discussion that has been talked about, including here in a blog from owner Ted Leonsis.
All told, this particular critique seems off-base. I have more of a problem with DeJuan Blair -- not Kris Humphries -- coming in for Marcin Gortat at the 1:18 mark. Here's what followed:
- Is completely out of position on a high screen and roll against Reggie Jackson and commits a silly reach-in foul that sends Jackson to the line.
- Turns it over after attempting to finish through two Pistons defenders. If he was quick enough to react, he would've made Cartier Martin pay for digging too far down by passing it off to Butler in the corner.
"We don't have guys that will put the ball on the floor and attack the rim, get cheap fouls, get to the free throw line," Wittman said. "We continually take contested shots. That hurt us."
Is that a shot at the front office, who may have taken part in criticizing his offensive game-plan over the All Star break, or his players? If it's the former, that's a problem. He may not have built this team from the ground-up, but he played a role in jettisoning young talent in favor of veterans, who, to no one's surprise, are struggling in an 82-game season.
Or is it the players, who are under an inside-out offensive approach that he implemented, and a system that largely dictates playing two traditional big men that inevitably comes at the cost of good floor spacing? I'm not absolving the players for not attacking more off the dribble, but it would help if their best player didn't constantly see this every time down the floor:
If you want your players to attack more, you don't encourage them to take the first open jumper they see. It's become comical at this point: team's are running efficient, modernized offenses while the Wizards continue to play through the post or chuck away from midrange. Yesterday, the Pistons put up 106 points, 102 of them came from either the three, the rim, or the FT line. It's a symbiotic relationship. Spread the floor out, and you get more driving lanes. Wittman hasn't grasped this yet.
I want to see legitimacy to these claims, and that's where Wittman has fallen short of in the past. Two years ago it was his reproach to the team's lack of post touches on offense against Memphis that sparked our curiosity, and last year against the Spurs, when he vehemently denied switching being a tenet in his defensively philosophy despite all signs pointing to the contrary.
We know not to take everything he says verbatim. He hardly has a chance to process what goes down on most nights during those post-game scrums, especially if his team falls just short of a win. But in a blowout that more or less mirrored their undoing against Cleveland? That's unacceptable and it's time he starts taking responsibility.